Killer’s sentence ‘manifestly inadequate’
COLE Miller's killer should have been sentenced to 12 years' jail, the crown prosecutor appealing the sentence handed to the 18-year-old's one-punch attacker has argued.
In 2017, Renata Armstrong was sentenced to seven years' jail after pleading guilty to unlawful striking causing the death of Mr Miller on a night out in Fortitude Valley one year earlier.
The case is one of five that have been heard in Queensland involving the charge, which carries a maximum penalty of life behind bars and requires attackers to serve 80 per cent of the sentence if convicted.
Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath lodged an appeal against Armstrong's sentence in November 2017, arguing it was manifestly inadequate.
In a Queensland Court of Appeal hearing on Wednesday, Crown Prosecutor Carl Heaton QC argued Armstrong should have been handed a sentence of 12 years for the fatal punch that killed the talented water polo player in a Valley nightclub.
Mr Miller was knocked out and hit his head on concrete during the attack.
The 18-year-old died in hospital days later.
Mr Heaton argued Armstrong's actions in attacking the teen were "precisely the type of offending" that prompted the introduction of the charge in 2014, as a "very specific legislative response to a perceived community concern" about alcohol-fuelled violence.
He said unlawful striking causing death was more serious than manslaughter that involved a punch to the head or neck because the attacker is "liable for the death" and cannot argue a defence of accident.
Mr Heaton also argued comparing previous sentences for manslaughter to the current case did not reflect the specific nature of the charge - to target gratuitous violence in party areas at night.
"I come back to the circumstances of this (case), with regard to this striking offence and we see what must be an almost perfect fit," he said.
"It's difficult to conceive of a case that is more precisely fitting the factual circumstances, which attracted this striking offence.
" … Dealing with what he (Armstrong) did, it is conduct that warrants at least the bare minimum double figures but I submit, a sentence not less than 12 years …
"I say the resulting penalty was too low having regard to all the things that were in his (Armstrong's) favour and the circumstances."
Armstrong's barrister, John Allen QC argued the point of the legislation was not to penalise defendants more harshly than if they had been charged with manslaughter.
"Why not as some kind of guidance … look into manslaughter sentences?" Mr Allen said.
The Court of Appeal will deliver their decision at a later date.